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Never too late to make good impression

We have all heard the cliché that, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

That came to mind recently when I was showing some out-of-town colleagues around Lawrence County.

I was asked a legitimate question that raised a somewhat embarrassing answer.

“Who maintains the welcome sign for Ironton?” one visitor asked as we drove along U.S. 52 between Coal Grove and the first Ironton exit.

The answer? No one.

Responsibility for the signage has been passed around over the years from civic organizations to the Ironton Business Association to the Boy Scouts and others.

Right now, this sign, with its faded logos, bent metal and rusty look, sends the wrong message about the city.

Most of the other city entrances have had some signage added in recent years but still may not have really dominant, eye-catching and aesthetically appealing signs to welcome visitors.

But the county seat is not alone in this. Most of the villages face similar challenges.

It’s probably something we should all rethink.

What can be done to ensure that someone’s first impression of our community is a positive one and sends the right message?

Something as simple as a sign may sound like just a superficial change. It truly isn’t.

Any city’s welcome sign says a lot about the community and sends sometimes not-so-subtle messages about community pride and engagement.

The Tribune is willing to do its part. Who is willing to rise to the challenge and help us restore and maintain the welcome sign along U.S. 52?

Could the Ironton Business Association, an organization that has all but ceased to exist, be revived through a project like this?

Could each civic organization in town donate even $250 to help design and install signage along the highway that truly showcases Ironton?

Would businesses be willing to donate for this one-time project?

Can the Ironton Municipal Court’s Community Service program take responsibility for the maintenance and landscaping?

This is the first step. Then we can look at the other entrances. With just a little bit of time and money we can ensure that visitors to our city don’t have to ask, “Who’s in charge of the sign?”

Who knows? Maybe our community will start making more good first impressions and improving on existing ones.

Don’t be fooled by the cliché. It is never too late to make a positive impression.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.